US-Honduras lineup

Lineup prediction for U.S.-Honduras qualifier

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(Update 6:10 p.m. MT: Lineups are out … nailed it)

SANDY, Utah — The lineups have become much more predictable lately for Jurgen Klinsmann, who has a settled central core now that an apparent first-choice center back tandem has been identified.

But there are a few choices to be made ahead of Tuesday’s match in Utah, where the temperatures may still be in the 90s for the 6:30 p.m. kickoff locally. Three choices specifically:

source:

Jermaine Jones or Geoff Cameron in the holding midfield spot?

Jones has successfully completed the concussion recovery protocol, so he’s available – and I expect him to play. Cameron was outstanding last week, but Panama’s midfield was generally positioned so far back that the versatile Stoke City man wasn’t really pressed. Honduras, although seriously dented by injury, is likely to press its midfield a little higher. Jones has the experience and mentality to handle it.

The choice at left back:

Best guess here – and it is just a guess, because Klinsmann has proven quite unpredictable in the past – is that Fabian Johnson will retreat back into his former position. Johnson has played as a left-sided midfielder lately, forming quite a useful partnership with left back DaMarcus Beasley, who will serve a one-game suspension for yellow card build-up.

Lately, Klinsmann has elected to keep as many men in place as possible. In that case, Edgar Castillo or even Cameron would fill in at left back. But Castillo is a real risk as his defending is splotchy at best.

Graham Zusi’s return:

This one is a no-brainer. The Sporting KC man will regain his spot along the right after serving a yellow card suspension. His ability to supply in-form striker Jozy Altidore is among the best elements going for the United States at the moment. Eddie Johnson was certainly adequate last week in replacement duty along the right, but his skill set is more suited to cutting inside rather than stretching defenses horizontally. Zusi is also one of the top U.S. men on restarts.

What Johnson did do last week with reasonable work against Panama was give Klinsmann the confidence to keep him in the lineup, but along the left if Fabian Johnson plays in defense. Eddie Johnson was in that very spot for two qualifiers of the semifinal round.

(MORE: U.S.-Honduras match preview)

(MORE: Expect the Rio Tinto atmosphere to rock) 

Southampton: Van Dijk won’t leave, selling days likely done

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MARCH 29:  Ralph Krueger the Southampton Chairman looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Newcastle United at St Mary's Stadium on March 29, 2014 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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Ralph Krueger doesn’t plan on selling any more big Southampton stars, and there’s none brighter than Virgil Van Dijk.

The Dutchman is perhaps the best center back in the Premier League, regularly linked with transfers to anywhere from Manchester City to Liverpool.

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But Krueger says Saints have had enough of selling big assets. Southampton has sold Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Sadio Mane, and Nathaniel Clyne in the past three seasons, and those are just the names to go to Liverpool. Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama have also moved on from St. Mary’s.

From Sky Sports:

“We would like to move away from that and we feel confident this summer will be a lot quieter in Southampton and we can keep the core of this team moving forward for a few years.

“That is going to be important when you see how excellent the group is right now and how exciting the football is. The game we are playing is a pleasure to watch and a pleasure to be part of.”

Saints were the more effective side in a 3-2 EFL Cup Final loss to Manchester United this weekend, but are well off the pace in the race to make back-to-back trips into Europe.

It will be hard to hold onto Van Dijk and even new bright light Manolo Gabbiadini without Europe, but Krueger is a strong leader with the ability to convince almost anyone to buy into a plan.

Real Salt Lake signs Plata to multi-year DP deal

Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata (8) gestures while walking during an MLS soccer game against New York City FC Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Sandy, Utah. (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP) DESERET NEWS OUT; LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; MAGS OUT
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SANDY, Utah (AP) Real Salt Lake has re-signed forward Joao Plata to a multi-year contract and he will continue to hold a designated-player spot.

The 24-year-old was acquired from Toronto FC before the 2013 season and he has 30 goals and 30 assists in regular-season play with RSL.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

Plata ranks No. 3 on the team’s all-time assists list and No. 5 in goals. He has 33 goals and 35 assists during his MLS career.

Real Salt Lake begins the season Saturday when it hosts Toronto FC.

Gotze out indefinitely with metabolism disorder

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - NOVEMBER 06:  Mario Goetze (R) and Ann-Kathrin Broemmel attend the MTV Europe Music Awards 2016 on November 6, 2016 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for MTV)
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Mario Gotze’s last few seasons have not fulfilled the expectations thrust about the World Cup-winning attacker.

Gotze, 24, scored the 113th minute goal that lifted Germany past Argentina in the 2014 World Cup, but has endured successive disappointing seasons between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

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With just two goals this season, Gotze has played just 24 minutes since BVB came back from winter break. On Monday, the club revealed why: a metabolism disorder that will keep him out for an indefinite period of time. From Sky Sports:

“We are glad to know the reasons for Mario’s complaints and we are convinced that after recovering he will give us extra quality with his exceptional abilities,” said Dortmund’s director of sport Michael Zorc.

“Mario gets the full backing and maximum support from all of us at Borussia Dortmund on his way back.”

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Gotze at his best, and here’s hoping this problem is both curable and the reason for his struggles.

Liverpool hires EA Sports executive as new CEO

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Liverpool has named Peter Moore as the successor to chief executive office Ian Ayre.

Ayre, 53, is off to 1860 Munich this summer, and has stepped down early to allow Moore to take over.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

A Liverpool-born executive, Moore was the chief operating officer at EA Sports and has also worked with Microsoft and SEGA.

The move “completes a transitional phase” which saw several new names join the fray. From The Liverpool Echo:

The appointment completes a transition plan by FSG which included appointing Michael Edwards as sporting director while Billy Hogan was promoted to the role of managing director and chief commercial officer.